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Highway projects to create Tulsa boom

Highway projects to create Tulsa boom

This article first appeared in the Tulsa World

by: GAVIN OFF World Data Editor
Monday, May 04, 2009
5/4/2009 3:20:43 AM

Tulsa will soon see the largest highway construction boom it has ever witnessed.

Later this month, crews should begin work on the single most expensive highway project in Tulsa and Oklahoma history, as they repave the north and west legs of the Inner Dispersal Loop.

The three-mile project, which includes resurfacing dozens of bridges and ramps, will cost about $75 million.

A couple of months later, crews will begin work on the area's second most expensive road project ever, as they widen portions of two roads and replace two Interstate 44 bridges near the Cherokee Casino Resort.

That project will cost about $63 million and was expedited with the Cherokee Nation's donation of more than $11 million in right-of-way and funding.

The two new projects will join a third massive Oklahoma Department of Transportation project already under way in Tulsa.

The Perryman Ditch drainage project, which will funnel storm water from the Peoria Avenue area to the Arkansas River, began in January at a cost of about $42 million.

"We're going to be extremely busy," said Paul Green, an ODOT construction engineer. "We're going to ask for patience. We're going to ask for (motorists) to keep our work zones safe. If they can work alternative hours or something of that nature, that would also be good."


What now is a bumpy section of Interstate 244, where patched potholes provide only partial relief, in the end will become a new smooth stretch of highway, department officials said.

The project contractors, Manhattan Road & Bridge Co. and Sherwood Construction Co., will repave I-244 from its bridge over U.S. 75 to the Arkansas River. In all, they'll resurface about three miles of road, including about 40 bridges and numerous ramps, Green said.

But crews will start by patching portions of the south and east legs of the loop, which will see increased traffic because of detours. Already, the IDL carries between 55,000 and 62,000 vehicles a day.

Patching will start in about four weeks and last more than a month.

Afterward, workers will shut down and repave the southbound lanes of the IDL's west leg and the westbound lanes of the loop's north leg.

Then they'll repave the northbound lanes of the IDL's west leg and the eastbound lanes of the north leg.

There is no time frame for those phases of the project, which in its entirety could take about 18 months to complete.

But Green said the contractors could earn $6 million in incentives if they finished the work early.

"It will be an inconvenience, but the results for Tulsa will be great," he said.


As the IDL project is in full swing, the Transportation Department and crews from Becco Contractors will begin a massive overhaul of I-44's intersection with 193rd East Avenue.

They'll widen portions of I-44, including the intersection's bridges, to four lanes in each direction and widen 193rd East Avenue between Admiral Place and Cherokee Street to six lanes and auxiliary lanes.

The roads and bridges are too narrow for the traffic they carry, which for I-44 tops 68,000 vehicles a day, said an ODOT spokeswoman, Kenna Mitchell.

David Stewart, the CEO of Cherokee Nation Enterprises, said the department has worked with casino officials to anticipate possible construction bottlenecks. But he said with sufficient signage, open lanes and on-site parking, there should be minimal problems during construction and great benefits afterward.

"It's great for this community and economic corridor," Stewart said. "We're very excited and think it definitely will add value to our property."

Crews will begin the project by building a two-lane bridge adjacent to the I-44 eastbound span. Once finished, the new lanes will be opened to eastbound traffic, allowing workers to remove the old eastbound lanes and replace them with two new ones.

Eventually the four new lanes will make up the bridge's eastbound span, but during construction of the bridge's westbound portion, the four lanes will carry both eastbound and westbound traffic.

Mitchell said the new bridge, which will replace two deficient bridges, will stretch 285 feet, more than twice as long as the existing ones.

Additional work includes widening the on- and off ramps to two lanes and installing a retaining wall along the interstate's shoulders.

Mitchell said at least two lanes of I-44 and two lanes of 193rd East Avenue north of the bridge will remain open to traffic between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. weekdays. That's how many lanes are now available to drivers.

"We're going to try to maintain traffic as best we can," Green said.

The entire project could take up to 630 days, although Becco bid to have it done sooner and could receive about $3 million in incentives if it finishes the job quickly, Green said.

Gavin Off 732-8106

Associate Images:



DAVID HOUSH / Tulsa World

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